We’re halfway there… [Week 12]

This weekend marks the halfway point in my study abroad program. Isn’t that crazy? Starting tomorrow, I’ll be closer to leaving Geneva than arriving here. The days are getting longer as we creep closer to summer (soon the Sun will be up until 9pm! I can’t wait!) and the temperature is more consistently in the 60s. I’m itching to break out my sundresses….

With three months gone and three months to go, I feel I’ve done so much, but there’s still so much I have yet to do. The first half of this program progressed lazily, steadily, but now I’m afraid I won’t be able to accomplish everything I’d like to with the time remaining. I suppose it’s a nice problem to have.

This week

On Monday, we had another update meeting with our CERN contact. It was my turn again to present; in my update, I got to announce my exciting news: My writing is live on the CMS website!!!

I explained my CERN project briefly in a previous post, but to summarize: I am writing content for the “Technology Transfer” section of the new Compact Muon Solenoid public website, meaning I write pieces about how technology developed for the CMS experiment is applied to other fields.

For example, the pieces I just published talk about how certain instruments developed for the CMS are today being applied to environmental protection and homeland security. Find out more by reading my articles! 😉

Let me know what you think in the comments below! I can always use feedback to improve my writing. 🙂

There are three pieces total: “Muon Tomography” provides an introduction to muon tomography, which is used in both of the other two articles (also linked at the bottom of this page), “Security and Environmental Protection” and “Homeland Security”.

We are currently developing more content for the Technology Transfer section of this website, so stay tuned! Since this is content for the CMS website and not “articles”, they will not be credited to me. For now, though, everything in this part of the website will be written by yours truly, and I will keep everyone here updated as my pieces get published.

Monday’s photo is of the Brussels sprouts I cooked for dinner that night. They came frozen so I was very glad to see they still came out well:


I didn’t take any pictures on Tuesday. 😦 This was bound to happen sooner or later…

I did, however, meet with Pauline for an hour and then indulge my free time with some shopping (I didn’t actually buy anything, though). Back at home, I did laundry—including successful quests to heroically rescue two pair-less socks from the evil clutches of behind-the-dryer! I also made myself finish reading Gone Girl, if for no other reason than to reach the resolution so the disturbing story would stop haunting me.

Nate’s 21st birthday was on Tuesday, but we celebrated on Wednesday (after all our assignments were turned in) with dinner at Chez Marino. I treated myself to salmon with a side of pasta. The sauce they provided, however, was unexpectedly spicy, even for my Chinese-Mexican tastebuds. Our friendly waiter, probably seeing my eyes watering from the heat, offered to bring me more spaghetti to dilute the sauce. Overall, the service was excellent while the food was rather average, especially for the price.

My salmon and pasta, before the spice had taken over…

After class on Thursday, I departed on my Epic Quest to find the next volume for my travel journal. I’ve been journaling, almost daily, since my freshman year of high school (minus a large and important gap during my first semester of college), and I conveniently finished filling my eighth notebook just before leaving for Geneva. I bought a new notebook to serve as my “travel journal”, a combination of my daily journal reflections and travel plans throughout the semester.

Sadly, I have reached capacity on this notebook; it’s bulging with receipts, brochures, and train tickets. Of course I’m happy that it’s full of memories, but I do regret not buying a bigger notebook that would have lasted the whole semester…

But the notebook is now full so I bought a new one on Thursday! Hopefully this one will last me until July….

On Friday, I treated myself to some sandals and a pair of slippers. My sandals at home have long needed a replacement and my slippers were officially trashed before coming here, so I planned on buying new pairs in Geneva anyway. The sandals are a soft neutral color, hopefully matchable with many outfits, and the slippers are quite…Swiss. I am very satisfied with my investment. The slippers have already proven to be well worth their 10 Franc price tag and I think the sandals will be more useful as the days get warmer.

Does this violate flag code? Graceland sandals feat. sloppily-painted toe nails.

On Saturday, we went to Montreux for our final excursion of the semester (more details below!) A group of us also went to see Patrick perform in a local church’s Passion Play that night. Patrick made an excellent Peter and Jeremiah, and we were all awed by his impressive singing voice!

Sunday was simply beautiful. The temperatures reached the 70s but my many internet-requiring tasks (blogging, planning spring break, etc.) have kept me indoors much of the day.


Montreux, Switzerland

Only 19 of us signed up for the final BU-sponsored excursion of the year. Our small group consisted almost entirely of physics students, as many of the internship students were taking advantage of their last gasps of free time before they leave at the end of the month. The bus was sparsely populated but still loud on the way to Montreux Saturday morning.

The day was sunny and clear; it could not have been a more lovely day for exploring Switzerland. Our driver stopped at a rest stop along the lake-hugging highway where we could get out and admire the view over Lake Geneva. Trees, sadly, blocked most of the view, but we took advantage of the playground there anyway.

Montreux is one of Switzerland’s most famous cities, legendary for its annual jazz festival and its mention in Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water“. Our time there would be brief; after an hour or so for lunch and exploring, we would all walk to the Château de Chillon for a tour.

Once we were released into the city for lunch, a small group of us walked the lakeside path to the Freddie Mercury statue. The legendary lead singer of Queen lived in Montreux, where he wrote and recorded his final songs at Queen’s Mountain Studios before his death in 1991. The statue was erected in his honor in 1996.

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“If you want peace of soul, come to Montreux.” – Freddie Mercury

At the plaza behind Freddie, some sort of reenactment was occurring. Dozens of men in old uniforms stood in formation holding guns with bayonets. Someone was announcing something in French (all I could make out was a couple of dates). Flags of various Swiss cities were hoisted in the air, drummers pattered out a militaristic rhythm on tom-toms, and then the guns fired.

There was also a procession of costumed men on horses parading down the lakeside path. It was all cool surprise, but we’re still not sure what it was.

For lunch, we stopped into the grocery store by the plaza and bought food for a picnic. I picked up a wedge of Lamembert cheese to go with a loaf of fresh bread. We all sat shoulder-to-shoulder on the edge of the lake, legs dangling over the rocks below, backs to the Sun. A swan swam up in front of us and started eating crumbs thrown to it by others on the path.

Next, we met up with the rest of the group to walk to the castle together. On our lovely 45 minute walk along the lake, we admired the scenery; the view of Lake Geneva and the Alps from Montreux is magnificent. Flowers line the lakeside walking path, providing a vibrant, colorful foreground for all of our artsy pictures of the scenery. Swans and sailboats frequently criss-cross the calm lake water as if posing for a Pinterest-worthy snapshot. All together, it made for the most stunning views I’d seen all semester.

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Château de Chillon is an ancient castle built by the Savoys; its oldest written mention dates back to 1150. It gained fame from Lord Byron’s 1816 poem about François Bonivard called The Prisoner of Chillon, inspired by his visit to the castle. (According to its Wikipedia page, it was the inspiration for the castle in the 1989 The Little Mermaid movie!)

We were led through the castle in an hour-long tour by a low-energy but informative tour guide. The castle was an intriguing step into the past, with lots of relics and rooms dating back to the 1500s. And, as is essential for any old castle, there were plenty of secret passageways.

The views around the castle were just as stunning as the rest of Montreux. Still, these pictures don’t do it justice.


Coming up

Spring break is this week! My bus to Milan leaves Friday morning and I’ll spend half a day there before taking a night-train to Rome. I’ll be in Rome from Saturday to Monday, so I’ll get to celebrate Easter with the Pope! On Monday night, I will take another overnight train to Venice, where I’ll meet up with Gabi, Casey, and Mina. We all leave Venice on Tuesday around noon, and then I’m off to Padua, where I’ll meet up with Nate. After a full day in Padua, Nate and I will part ways as I take a train to Verona on Thursday. Friday morning, I’ll take a train to Innsbruck, Austria, where I’ll spend a few hours, then take a bus from there to Nuremberg, Germany. (Count ‘em—that’s three countries in one day!) I’ll spend the weekend in Nuremberg with my friend Lukas and then fly out of Munich Sunday night. Whew.

I plan on blogging my entire trip, more-or-less in real time. Hopefully I’ll have enough time in the evenings to upload pictures and let y’all know what I’ve been up to! Also, keep up with me by following my Instagram, @madworld.travel.

But before that adventure can start…we have a “midterm” in quantum mechanics on Wednesday. Unlike in the US, it doesn’t count for a grade, but it will be a good opportunity to see how this professor structures his tests.


My Tenerife blog is coming along nicely; hopefully it’ll be up in the next couple of days. Thanks for your patience!


With love,

Maddie 🙂

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